1. Defroster
  2. Exterior Lighting
  3. Fusible Link
  4. Fuses
  5. Jump Starting Procedure
  6. High Intensity Discharge Lights
  7. Interior Lighting
  8. Starter
  9. Starter Relay
  10. Starter Solenoid
  11. Switches
  12. Voltage Regulator

Defroster

Description: The defroster is a specialized mode of the HVAC system that directs treated air to the interior of the windshield and in many cases to the side windows.

Purpose: The defroster is usually used to heat and dry the interior surface of the windshield. This removes moisture from the inside to eliminate fogging and also warms the windshield to prevent water from freezing on the outside.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: An improperly operating defroster can impair your vision and your safety. Common defroster problems may include little or no airflow to the windshield, inability to change air temperature, and poor defogging. Many import cars have an outside air/recirculation air control lever. The defroster cannot properly remove moisture from the interior of the car unless the lever is set to the outside air mode. If basic checks do not reveal the cause of your car’s defroster problem, have it looked at by a professional service technician.

Exterior Lighting

Description: Your car’s exterior lighting includes the headlights, parking lights, marker lights, fog lights (if equipped), turn signals, hazard flashers, brake lights, centre high mounted stoplight (CHMSL), taillights, back-up lights, and miscellaneous lamps.

Purpose: The exterior lights provide night vision and the ability to see in foggy conditions, as well as a means to signal other drivers about driving intentions and emergency situations.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: The operation if your car’s exterior lights should be checked at every oil change to ensure your safety. Each year, have the alignment of your car’s headlights checked to make sure they’re aimed properly. If one light doesn’t work in a circuit but the others do, the problem is probably a bad bulb. If all the lights are out in a circuit (except the headlights), the problem is probably a fuse, switch or other factor affecting the entire circuit. A bad bulb or turn signal flasher usually causes turn signal problems. A turn signals that flashes on one side, but not the other, is usually caused by a bad bulb on the side that won’t flash. If both sides don’t flash, and the bulbs appear to be OK, it’s likely that the turn signal flasher is faulty. Check your car’s owner’s manual for fuse and turn signal flasher locations. Beyond that, it’s wise to consult a qualified service professional to diagnose other maladies in the lighting circuits. Upgraded halogen headlights produce a whiter light that is closer to the colour of natural daylight. Whiter light provides drivers with improved night visibility which can help improve a driver’s reaction time and ability to see roadside objects at night.

Fusible Link

Description: The traditional fusible link is a short section of wire that has a smaller diameter than the rest of the circuit. When current flow in the circuit exceeds that of the fusible link, the wire melts and interrupts the circuit. This type of fusible link is becoming quickly obsolete, as many carmakers have opted for newer technologies such as the cartridge style fuse element or maxi fuse. When a fuse link “blows”, it must be replaced.

Purpose: Fusible links act as high-current fuses by protecting their circuits from excessive current draw. The capacity of fusible links is usually 30 amps or more-somewhat higher than that of standard fuses. When a fusible link blows, it means that its current-carrying capacity was exceeded and the heat across the link’s conductor caused the link to melt and open the circuit.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Blown fusible links usually indicate more serious electrical circuit problems such as a short circuit or an electrical consumer that is using more current than the circuit is designed for. If the circuit problem still exists and a new fusible link is installed, the new link will also melt. The location of fusible links varies. The older, wire style of link is usually located in a wiring harness near a main harness connection and the link may have a current capacity tag attached. Fortunately, since this type of link can be tough to find, carmakers have almost altogether changed to the cartridge style fuse element or maxi fuse. These types of fusible links are located in fuse panels at various locations on the vehicle. Check your car’s owner’s manual for fuse panel locations and their specific fusible links and capacities. To get to the root cause of your car’s electrical problem, have the system diagnosed by a qualified service professional.

Fuses

Description: Older vehicles use cartridge type fuses that have a fuse element encased in a glass cylinder. The fuse capacity is marked on the end conductors of this type of fuse. The blade style fuse has become almost the universal standard for fuse applications today. The blade style fuse makes it much easier to visually determine whether a fuse is blown or not.

There are three different types of blade fuses: the mini fuse (used in small-current applications), the standard auto fuse (used for most common circuits), and the maxi fuse (used for higher-current applications and in some case to replace a fusible link).

When a fuse “blows”, it must be replaced. Carmakers use circuit breakers –a resettable rather than replaceable circuit protector — instead of fuses in circuits such as the headlights, power seats, power windows, and others.

Purpose: Fuses and circuit breakers are designed to protect circuits in the event of electrical overload.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specifics on fuse panel locations, fuses and their capacities. Today’s electrical systems have more than one fuse panel that can be found in different locations throughout the vehicle. Common fuse panel locations include the engine compartment and under the dash. Some carmakers have even made life easier by labelling fuse access panels with “FUSES”. Circuit breakers are often located in fuse/relay panels, but some components like the headlight switch and power window motors have built-in circuit breakers. Blown fuses or a tripped circuit breaker usually indicate more serious electrical circuit problems such as a short circuit or an electrical consumer that is using more current than the circuit is designed for. Mini fuses, standard auto fuses and the maxi fuse all have standard colours that reflect the fuse’s current-carrying capability.

Jump Starting Procedure

Description: “Jump starting” is a procedure involving the proper sequence of connecting jumper cables from a vehicle with a good battery to a vehicle with a discharged battery.

Purpose: The proper jump-starting procedure increases the likelihood of success when starting a car with a discharged battery and minimizes the chances of vehicle damage.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: When possible, refer to your car’s owner’s manual for the recommended jump-start procedure and follow it exactly. Use extreme care when working around batteries as batteries emit explosive gas that can ignite if jumper cables are connected improperly. The following procedure outlines the general steps involved when jump-starting.

  • Make sure that the vehicles are not touching.
  • Turn off the engine and all electrical accessories.
  • Connect one of the positive (+) cable clamps (red) to the positive terminal of the discharged battery.
  • Connect the positive clamp (red) from the other end of the jumper cable to the positive (+) terminal of the good battery.
  • Connect the clamp from the negative jumper cable (black) to the negative (-) terminal of the good battery.
  • Connect the negative cable clamp (black) on the other end of the jumper cable to the engine block or other good engine metal surface on the vehicle with the discharged battery. Do not connect the negative clamp to the negative (-) terminal of the discharged battery. This may trigger a spark and result in explosion of the gases surrounding the battery, causing injury.
  • Make sure that the jumper cables are clear of all moving parts and start the engine of the vehicle with the discharged battery. To remove the cables, reverse the connection order, starting with the negative cable on the vehicle with the discharged battery.
  • After the vehicle with the discharged battery is running, bring your vehicle to us to have the electrical system tested and the cause of the discharged battery determined and corrected.

High Intensity Discharge Lights

Description: High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights, also known as Xenon lights, produce a bright light resulting from an electric arc inside a capsule full of Xenon gas. Many times, HID lighting appears to give off a bluish tint when the bulbs are lit. This technology produces a significantly brighter and whiter light than that of a standard halogen light. HID lights first began appearing on luxury cars in the late 1990s and are becoming increasingly more common as standard equipment.

Purpose: As a newer headlight technology, HID lights provide better visibility at night, which help to improve nighttime driving safety. HID lights also consume less electricity than their halogen counterparts, reducing load on the car’s electrical system. Because of the projector-like technology of HIDS, their high-tech appearance is also a welcome addition to today’s vehicle designs.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Check headlight operation frequently and always replace defective bulbs with another of the same exact type. During replacement, be careful not to touch the bulb itself as the oil from your skin can cause the bulb to fail. Cars with HID lights from the factory meet lighting safety requirements for that specific make, year and model. If you plan to retrofit your car’s standard halogen lights over to HID, make sure the bulbs/conversion kits result in a legal installation for street use. HID conversions are usually more involved than just a simple bulb replacement and require thorough research before making the decision to switch.

Interior Lighting

Description: Interior lighting includes the instrument panel lights, dome light, map lights, door courtesy lamps, rear cargo lamp, and any other miscellaneous lights that may be used to illuminate features or areas of the interior.

Purpose: The interior lights provide illumination of instruments for nighttime driving and light as needed inside the interior.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Take the time to review your vehicle’s owner’s manual so you have a clear understanding of what the lights encompass and how they operate. When they are not functioning it can be either the bulb itself which needs replacing, or a fuse. If neither of these simple solutions works to get to the root cause of your car’s lighting problem, have the system diagnosed by our qualified service professional.

Starter

Description: The starter consists of an electric motor that powers a starter drive-a special pinion gear designed to engage with the ring gear of the flywheel or torque converter. Many of today’s starters also use a gear reduction to increase the torque output of the starter. The starter is usually mounted to the rear of the engine or the front of the transmission housing.

Purpose: The starter cranks the engine when the ignition switch is turned to the start position. The starter drive uses an overrunning clutch that freewheels if the engine starts while the starter is still engaged, reducing the likelihood of damage to the starter drive and ring gear.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: To ensure good starter performance, check your vehicle’s battery cables at every oil change. The cables should be tight and free from corrosion. Corroded or loose connections can cause slow cranking, arcing at cable connections, and other electrical system problems. The battery case and terminals can be cleaned using a mixture of baking soda and water. As an added measure to fight terminal corrosion, chemically treated felt rings can be placed over the battery posts. Each spring, prior to travel season, it’s wise to have your car’s starter tested as part of a comprehensive starting, charging and battery test. This test will determine whether your car’s starter is drawing its normal amount of current. Excessive current draw usually means a worn starter and results in hard starting. Take your car to a professional service technician to get to the heart of your car’s starting system problem.

Starter Relay

Description: The starter relay is high-current switch used in the starting circuit of some cars. The relay contains a set of windings and contact discs that move when energized. A starter relay is usually mounted to the firewall area underneath the hood.

Purpose: The starter relay makes and breaks the connection to the starter, based off a signal from the ignition switch. Since the relay handles the job of handling the high-current load to the starter, only a small amount of current flow is needed to activate the relay.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Proper starter relay and starter operation rely on a healthy battery and sound cable connections. Make sure the connections are clean and tight at every oil change. A faulty starter relay can cause the starter to not engage or lose engagement, and overall poor starter performance. Each spring, prior to travel season, it’s wise to have your car’s starting system tested as part of a comprehensive starting, charging and battery test. This test will determine whether your car’s starter relay is working as it should, along with the rest of the starting circuit. If you suspect a problem with the starter relay or the starter, have it investigated as soon as possible by one of our professional service technicians.

Starter Solenoid

Description: A starter solenoid mounts directly to the starter. Although similar to the starter relay, the solenoid converts electrical energy into linear motion. The solenoid contains a set of windings that, when energized, cause movement of the solenoid’s plunger, which then engages the starter.

Purpose: The starter solenoid supplies the high current needed to run the starter motor and also provides the force needed to engage the starter.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Proper starter solenoid and starter operation rely on a healthy battery and sound cable connections. Make sure the connections are clean and tight at every oil change. A faulty starter solenoid can cause the starter to not engage or lose engagement, and overall poor starter performance. Each spring, prior to travel season, it’s wise to have your car’s starting system tested as part of a comprehensive starting, charging and battery test. This test will determine whether your car’s starter solenoid is working as it should, along with the rest of the starting circuit. If you suspect a problem with the starter solenoid or the starter, have it investigated as soon as possible by one of our professional service technicians.

Switches

Description: Switches are one of the key components of any electrical circuit. Switches are used in a multitude of locations for just about every conceivable vehicle accessory and feature. They range from the simple to the complex, some having just a few contacts while others have a complex arrangement for more sophisticated needs. An example of a simple switch is the one operated by the glove box door that turns on the light inside.

On the other end of the spectrum, the turn signal switch is rather complex, as it must control the turn signals, while interrupting the brake light circuit. Some switches are operated manually, such as the switches for the power windows. Other switches activate automatically, such as the door switches that activate the interior lights. Some switches, such as the headlight switch, may also include a circuit breaker as part of the switch assembly.

Purpose: Switches open and close the various circuits on your car, providing control of those circuits. In circuit with higher current flow, a switch may be used indirectly for circuit control. That is, the switch activates a relay that actually handles current flow for the circuit.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: The switches on your car do not require regular maintenance and usually last the life of the car. Nevertheless, switches can fail over time after being activated thousands of times during their normal life. The symptoms of a bad switch usually include a circuit that won’t work at all or a circuit that may not work in certain modes. Like any circuit that doesn’t work, it’s always best to start with a check of the fuses. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for fuse locations and capacities. If the fuse is OK, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the switch is bad. There are many things that can go wrong with an electrical circuit, a switch being just one of them. To accurately pinpoint the cause, have your car’s electrical problem thoroughly diagnosed by one of our qualified service technicians.

Voltage Regulator

Description: The voltage regulator is an electronic device that regulates alternator output according to the battery’s state of charge and accessory loads. Today’s compact electronic voltage regulators may be housed inside the alternator or the voltage regulator function may be handled by the vehicle’s powertrain control module (PCM).

Purpose: The voltage regulator manages the alternator’s output according to vehicle operating conditions. The voltage regulator must balance the needs of a fully charged battery, long battery life, accessory loads, and long light bulb life. For these reasons, voltage regulators must operate at specified voltages.

Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: Each spring, it’s wise to have your car’s charging system tested as part of a comprehensive starting, charging and battery test. This test will determine whether your car’s alternator/voltage regulator team is doing its job as designed. Symptoms of a faulty voltage regulator may include a discharged battery, short battery life, poor accessory and lighting operation, frequent bulb replacement, lower than normal dashboard voltmeter readings, an illuminated charging system warning light, frequent topping off of the battery’s electrolyte, and diagnostic trouble codes stored in the vehicle’s PCM. Also, a bad alternator may cause repeat failures of the voltage regulator, so keep this in mind. Isolating the cause of your car’s charging system woes is best left to the skills and experience of a qualified service technician. Since the functions of the alternator and voltage regulator are so closely interrelated, it takes the right combination of training and equipment to pinpoint the fault.